is home to over 8 million people and is the capital of Great Britain
. There's over 2,000 years of history here and plenty of world-class attractions. A quarter of Londoners were born in another country which explains why 300 languages are spoken here - more than in any other city in the world. London is a sprawling mass so is broken down into 32 boroughs and then into smaller towns and neighbourhoods making it a lot less overwhelming. There are hundreds of hotels in London but staying in a house or apartment means you see more than just the iconic sights and discover why Londoners love their city too.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
, the Hogwarts headmaster has a scar that resembles a map of the London Underground on his knee.
Until 1916 Harrods
sold pure cocaine to the general public.
is considered the oldest place name in Britain and the river is a combination of four other rivers.
The London Eye
can carry 800 passengers per revolution - equivalent to 11 double-decker buses.
There is only one tube station which does not have any letters of the word 'mackerel' in it: St John's Wood.
There are more Michelin-rated restaurants in London than in any city except for Paris.
Things to do in London
As you would expect for such a large city, London has a lot of options on offer. Some come for the shopping and others for the nightlife. Some want to try the best restaurants and others want to see the famous landmarks. There are about 200 museums here so it's impossible to see everything in one trip so these suggestions are just to get you started.
You'll want to see some of the famous sights so definitely go to Westminster Bridge so you can take photos of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
on the north side and the London Eye
on the south. Parliament Square is one of London's four UNESCO World Heritage Sites so do admire Westminster Abbey
Cross over the bridge and walk along the South Bank
which is loved by visitors and Londoners alike. Right next to the London Eye is the London Aquarium
where you can walk over the shark tank, and the new London Dungeon
which has two rides and leaves you screaming with laughter.
So much to see and do!
Do wander further along the South Bank as it's a traffic-free walkway right next to the river Thames. Southbank Centre
often has free events, including watching the cool skateboarders under the building, and the National Theatre
has outdoor entertainment in the summer too.
is always worth seeing as it's the national gallery of contemporary art and is free to visit. Take a stroll over the Millennium Bridge - the one that was wobbly but isn't now - and you'll reach St Paul's Cathedral
where you could easily spend half a day as there's a guided tour and multimedia guide included in the entrance fee. While photos are not allowed inside take your camera for the upper galleries in the dome as the views are fantastic.
Stay on the south side and there's Shakespeare's Globe
where you can see an exhibition and tour the theatre when no performances are running or come to see a play from as little as £5 for a standing ticket in The Yard.
Great places to eat
When you're hungry, The Anchor
pub nearby has outdoor seating and does good fish and chips or walk on to Borough Market
for a wide choice to satisfy every foodie.
If you're not afraid of heights and want to see London from the highest vantage point in Europe then the View From The Shard
is worth a visit. From levels 69 and 72 you can see as far as 40 miles (64 km) away. The top floor is not enclosed so you can feel the wind and the rain too. Most compare it to the feeling when flying rather than being in a building and I'd have to agree.
There's still more to see in this part of town so go through Hays Galleria
, off Tooley Street, and rejoin the river path to find HMS Belfast
- a war ship that's now a museum where you can climb over nine decks and get lost onboard having fun.
Continue along the riverside and you'll see the glass 'leaning egg' that is City Hall
which has offices for the Mayor of London and local government. The public can go inside and there's a Ben Okri poem you can follow up a winding slope around the building to a little known viewing spot where you can sit and look across at the Tower of London. Go down instead and there's a huge street map of London you can walk on. Why not try and find where you're staying? There's free wifi in the building and a good cafe too.
The magic of Tower Bridge
Back outside and you're in front of Tower Bridge
, the most famous bridge in London. It does still raise about 1000 times a year to allow tall ships to pass through so you may well be lucky and see this spectacle.
Walk across Tower Bridge and look out for love locks left by romantic travellers. Stop at the middle and stand over the point where the two sides meet and you can see the river below. It also feels pretty wobbly when a bus goes over the bridge. You can also visit the high walkways where there are exhibitions about the bridge's construction and the views are worth seeing.
Cross the bridge and you're at another of London's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London
. Over 900 years old, there's a lot of history to take in here and the Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) tours are the best way to discover it all in a highly entertaining manner.
London has five international airports - Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and London City Airport - with train and bus routes connecting each to central London. If you're here for more than a couple of days it's worth getting a 'Pay As You Go' Oyster Card
for London public transport which gives you a better rate than cash fares and covers all of the trains, buses and tube journeys within London (but not necessarily from the airport). Try to take at least one ride in an iconic black cab as, although the fare is not covered by Oyster Card, the drivers are real experts on the city and you'll always get some good tips.